To The Little Gentleman in Black Velvet

TheMole-misunderstood? A mole-of course. This was taken up as a popular toast after William the III was killed when his horse tripped on a mole hill and threw him to his death.  In these post “Wind in the Willows” days however, we appear less ready to celebrate the much-maligned mole in all his velveteen glory. Last week it was announced that the British mole population had reached record numbers, due to a ban in the poison previously used to kill them. Mole-catchers (isn’t it reassuring to learn that a few sacred  remnants of Olde Worlde England still exist today-cobblers and mole-catchers included) claim their work has tripled; one claimed to catch 85 in one go. My uncle used to tell a wonderful story (clearly grossly exaggerated if not entirely fictional) about an old scottish molecatcher he knew; whom occasionally one would meet in the lane, twtiching his hands furiously in his frayed pockets, until you suspected dirty work was afoot. It transpired however he was dipatching the unfortunate velvet-jacketed gentleman he had caught earlier. Anyway, reading about this last week got me thinking about the plight of the mole, and how little we know about his dark subterranean world:

The Mole’s Lament

“For I am Black But O My Soul is White”-William Blake

Beneath the world my tunnels stretch

Doomed to darkness, Alas! Poor wretch

And yet, it’s not as bad as that

I find it suits- though once a cat

In rude encounter dug me up

On my meat form  it thought to sup

In black-balled frenzy I airbourne

Was from my warm dark chamber torn

Pink feet wriggling under a glare hot- white

(For i am blind and live in night)

Perpetual-a life amongst the gloam

Yet undisturbed in earthy dome

Friend of no-one, sworn enemy of kings

And gardeners alike-how their revenge rings

In my invisible ear the deafening roar

Of that they call the “grass mower”

And yet I trouble little the world above

           But for all my blackness, have no love



Here’s to the little gentleman in black velvet!

There are always two sides to an argument-here’s the other, courtesy of Pam and Dad:



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